Jon Stevens

The smells you remember

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This past winter while driving to work from Washington to Waynesburg, my sense of smell would jolt me back in time when I would, on occasion, inhale a most wondrous aroma of burning wood.


The smell of either a wood-burning fireplace or a smoker heating up to make ready for barbecue treats at a roadside establishment on Route 19 between Waynesburg and Ruff Creek sent me to places that I hold near and dear.


Now, I am not sure which of the five senses is considered the most vital. I know you can’t argue against sight, touch, hearing and taste, but smell … well, there is nothing that can resurrect memories like smell, whether, as in my case, it be the smell of burning wood, or for others perfume, or even a favorite meal.


Coincidentally, on the day I smelled a wood-burning fire, I learned some colleagues and friends were planning a ski trip to Colorado. Yes, a ski trip, with a ski lodge and ostensibly a roaring fire inside to warm the bodies of the downhill warriors.


Then, on Easter, while having dinner with a relative who was in the group that made the trek to Colorado, I learned he had spent part of the weekend skiing at Seven Springs in Somerset County, where the mountains still have snow – in April.


When I was younger, much younger, my family would make regular weekend jaunts to Seven Springs. Over the course of time, I became a pretty good skier, graduating from being pulled up the beginner’s slope by a mechanical tow rope to going to the mountaintop and getting down in one piece.


And, of course, a chair lift took you to the top of the mountain. For those unfamiliar with that thrill, imagine standing on a platform, holding your ski poles, waiting for the empty chair to circle down the mountain, swing in a semicircle, catch you mid-thigh and pick you literally off your feet.


With skis dangling, off the lift went, up and away toward the top. Riding a chair lift was like a rite of passage to a young kid. It meant, at least to me, that I had made it to the big time, because once you got off the chair the only way down was to ski down, or fall.


Hearing about the recent ski adventure to Colorado and to Seven Springs over Easter weekend made me a tad jealous, but then I realized it has been awhile since I made a trip down a ski slope. I am not a kid any more, but neither are those to whom I previously referred. They have been keeping up with the sport and can enjoy the invigorating feeling of speeding down the side of a mountain.


Maybe the next time they are planning to go I will ask if I can tag along, not to ski, but to make sure the home fires in the lodge keep burning. They can feel the snow sting their faces, but I will sit and enjoy the smell – aah, the smell.


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